Sometimes it’s really hard to understand and deal with the darkness. It can feel like it is all around us; choking us and stealing our breath. Why do some people endure such deep and troubling pain and unrelenting anguish in this world? It can be easier to ignore the struggles around us and drown out the challenging questions in our minds. It is more comforting to pretend that there is not a small child being abused down the street or a young woman being raped several times a day in a house not so far away. It understandably feels better to hide within the make believe walls of a more peaceful and sheltered existence. But such an existence only enables and intensifies the grip and manifestations of darkness and sin. Edmund Burke once said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Idleness in the face of darkness does not cause it to disappear but instead causes it to grow. It will only continue to spread like a cancer until it is crouching at our very door, unless we choose to act.
That is why I love this time of year the most. Christmas brings a sense of wonder and joy. Deep down we know that there is more to our celebration than food or gifts. It is not simply a time to escape the stains of life for a season. Rather, it is a glorious sign that God did not abandon us to our ourselves and we are not forever destined to flee from or be entrapped in a world of shame and fear. He began a great and awesome rescue operation with the simple birth of a little boy two thousand years ago. As Isaiah foretold, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned….for to us a child is born, to us a son is given...and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
That kingdom is a certainty and can act as a secure shelter; not to escape our world but instead to fortify our positions and find strength as we face and fight the battles head on. Although the kingdom that Isaiah proclaimed has not been fully realized yet, we have been made citizens and he has called us to bring the reality of his kingdom to life wherever our feet should walk and to whatever our hands should touch. Instead of shrinking away from those in desperate need , we can boldly stand together against the greatest evils of our time. We can say to those who would devour the most weak and vulnerable among us that they have come this far and no further. Their time of destruction and exploitation are over. We can remember those in despair and freely offer them a true and lasting hope.
Remember this Christmas that he has given us a great light. Jesus is the hope of the nations and our peace in troubled times. As we celebrate his birth we must not forget that his mind-blowing light has been passed on to you and me. His brightness needs to flood the darkest places. Will you let it shine?